Thursday, November 15, 2012

Red Knitted Piano Jumper

I don't know if it's because I was a true 80's child that I have such nostalgia for these years. I was there for all of them for a start and spent a lot of my formative school age years deep inside them. Seriously though.  What a great time to grow up. We had glimpses of the mod cons that technology would be bringing us but there was still a simplicity. A wholesomeness to life back then. Kids toys were pretty epic but we still wanted to play outside. Television shows were off the chart and with only 2 channels in NZ until 1990- TVNZ had a pretty captive audience. Weekends were book ended by "What Now" and "RTR Countdown" or an endless stream of Sunday night Disney Family movies. (depending on your bedtime of course....) Kiwi cuisine was for the most part still pretty bland but thanks to microwaves at least it was fast. The times they were a changin' but little did we know the cultural cusp we were existing on.  Of everything the 80's touched - not many things evolved and expanded quite the same way that music and fashion did. Both became brave and experimental in both inspiration and execution while also giving us so many more choices and options. For a small country with 2 television stations and only a handful of high end family run department stores; this was a huge turning point.

 Before I slip into the ramblings of a mad woman writing about 80's music I will get back on track. From here on in I will try to just give you the ramblings of a mad woman writing about 80's fashion or more specifically knitwear.

The later half of the 80's (from where I was at least) heavily featured bright and chunky knits. Much of it was over sized. Even more of it was variations of a template using neon colours, geometric shapes, different textures and squiggles. There were squiggles everywhere. There is a very real chance that my view of knitwear during these years is based predominantly on my own wardrobe at the time but years of op shop rummaging seems to back me up. Knitwear was heavily patterned and multi coloured whatever the palette of choice. There was (is?) something for everyone who wanted to dabble and support our national wool industry. Woolrest was even the prime sponsor of the 1983 Miss World Competition that shot our own Lorraine Downs straight to the dizzying international and highly coveted "Miss Universe" title. Wool was breaking away from it's daggy (ha) reputation and we were happy to jump aboard and see where this thing would take us.

I just need to quickly apologise for the "dag" pun but the one incorporating "following like sheep" was much worse.

Somewhere in between the first industrial knitting machine made for personal home use and the niche carved out by infamous figure David Bain and his garments of choice lies today's subject. It wasn't knitted for me personally but god knows I had 2 Grandmothers that would have been more than capable of making this happen if only I had thought to ask. Whoever was the original recipient was I just hope they loved it the way it deserves to be appreciated. In saying that there is a certain comedic quality to imagining a punk or goth 14 year old boy  being given this for Christmas from an elderly relative. I just hope he waited till she wasn't watching before he  rolling his eyes or going into involuntary facial twitches when he realises he not only has to try it on for her but people have cameras. Whether it harked from a happy place of intentional design for it's original wearer or a teenage boys darkest nightmares his friends see him wearing it in the family Christmas photo's. It sure is in a loving home now.

I stumbled across it on trademe. I may have typed piano as a search word in the clothing section. It sure seems like something I would do after all- but I seem to recall this one may have found me in a much vaguer category in a general browse. I could go into some deeper philosophical thoughts about fate versus luck when it comes to finding clothes. I could also go into ridiculous detail about the difference between me finding that special something and that special something finding me and how I differentiate the 2 but I won't. You will just need to trust my gut feeling on this one. Even if I hadn't found the trademe listing myself there is a very real chance that someone else would have pointed me in it's direction. Piano keys are a pretty obvious thing to be related back to me so I have a pretty sweet collection of keyboard themed accessories gifted over the years. (scarves, belts, rings, bracelets, tights, headbands... the list goes on) I will confess there is an inclination to throw myself into this P.O.F completely and wear them all together but I won't. Even I have a line I don't cross and I'm pretty sure a head to toe piano key outfit is falling on the wrong side of it. I will save that one for when I am closer to 60 and can use my well earned elderly eccentricity as an excuse to really go to town on it. Seriously. The outfits of my golden years are already being thought about....

The red is bright and tomatoey. It goes with my current favourite red lippie and I have many options for co-ordinating around it in while being subtle yet deliberate. A closer look at the stitches in the keys suggests that it was machine knitted  but still not mass produced.  I have matched it with red boots that are maybe knocking on the door of a little too matchy but a pair of classic black chuck taylor hightops would finish the outfit off perfectly too. Not only would they tone it down a notch while not having to give up on my obsession for matching colours- they would work well with the tights in the pictures, darker shiny lycra leggings or jeans.

I love this jumper. I really do. The only thing I would change about it is it's size. When I bought it is was clearly listed a woman's size 10. It was photographed flat on the floor and I imagined it would be much smaller than it turned out to be. You will see in the photo's that wearing it as a dress isn't too much of a stretch for me but turns out it also fits my lovely man who is much MUCH bigger than me. What started as a joke in him trying it on for shits and giggles quickly escalated into it going to work with him as an ironic participation in a loud shirt day. Essentially he used my awesome new jumper as a novelty dress up joke. (The joke hinging around the fact he is the last person you would ever see joining in on an office dress up theme.) It was even briefly passed on and worn by another friend of ours in his office- although I know he was wearing less ironically being  a man of  loud persona and many musical talents. The most impressive part being that standing at close to 6 foot 7 the jumper still fits him perfectly. This knitted piece of incredibleness is many many things but a woman's size 10 it is not.


To give you a sense of scale- if I was standing next to Carl in this photo I would be lucky to come up to the bottom of the black keys on the sleeves. I should also point out I haven't asked permission to use his photo showing how well he rocks this jumper.  It sure isn't a choice for the faint hearted and he carries it off in a way that not many others could. He should be proud. Hell if I didn't love the damned thing so much myself I would be tempted to give it him.

Carl- if you ever read this I promise you can borrow it anytime you want. I will even throw in the matching glasses you are modelling to complete the ensemble. You are welcome. Or I'm sorry. Whichever is more appropriate at this juncture....

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Blogger Amber Parkin said...

Quite disappointed there is no photographic evidence of Mr Young wearing the jumper...

November 16, 2012 at 5:17 AM  
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